Students come to music lessons for various reasons. Some are more self-actualized than others. As a teacher, I find that one of the first orders of business is helping students to deal with their self doubts. The flute and lessons becomes a vehicle for some to learn to work out their issues. As performers, we need to be at least a step or two ahead of our self doubts. It can be as simple as opening the case. It can be as difficult as deconstructing one's self and then beginning the long task of reassembly. And, the job is never done. It is a life fact that we need to assess upon occasion and bring ourselves upright.
So learning the flute, be it at a student, amateur or professional level, is about problem solving. Showing up on time, with right equipment and a good attitude is a great start. Opening up our minds to develop deeper thoughts about the physics of flute playing, the depth and beauty of music, and our own inner workings may take time.
I tell my students that problem solving is about understanding how the small bits fit into the larger whole. So, its about "baby steps", such as learning how to connect two notes beautifully. Much of this learning takes place outside the flute lesson in individual practice routines. A good teacher helps the student find their pathway to understanding themselves through developing their skills.
So, it seems necessary to address the mental and emotional stumbling blocks that we place before ourselves. For instance, I have never been bowling. Although I have heard that it is great fun, I am afraid of looking foolish. If it becomes necessary to learn how to bowl, I will set aside my pride and learn the sport.
Problem solving in music can be broken down into smaller bits:
1. Identify the issue. If it doesn't feel right, most likely it is not. Additionally, one can not assume that anything is right. Constant assessment is imperative.
2. Isolate and repair the issue. (Go bowling!) Boil it down to two notes. Play it MUCH slower. Add a few notes on either end until the whole phrase is done. Did you inflect it the way you wanted? If not, look at how you want to develop the phrase.
3. Reinsert the phrase. Does it work with what is on either side? Does it fit into the bigger architecture?
Problem solving in real life may be more abstract. Try to eliminate the emotional aspects to see what is the true issue. Take the proper time to analyze all the perspectives. Find a way to move past the problem and then take the necessary steps to progress in the future.
Standing still is not an option.